NEW YORK – All eyes are on Jeff Koons this May, as Sotheby’s prepares to sell two important works by the artist and the Whitney Museum of American Art puts the finishing touches on a major retrospective.

In the name of art, Jeff Koons has appropriated and recontextualised ordinary objects and instantly recognisable popular imagery into thought-provoking, playful and often controversial sculpture. Headlining the Contemporary Art Evening auction this May at Sotheby’s are two of the artist’s works, one an early effort and another quite new, both instant classics. 

Three Ball 50/50 Tank (Spalding Dr. JK Silver Series, Wilson Home Court, Wilson Final Four), 1985. Estimate $4,000,000–6,000,000. To be offered in the Contemporary Art Evening auction, 14 May. © 2014 Jeff Koons.

At once self-explanatory and mysterious, Three Ball 50/50 Tank (Spalding Dr. JK Silver Series, Wilson Home Court, Wilson Final Four) (1985) comprises three basketballs floating in a vitrine half-filled with water. In order to keep the balls submerged at exactly 50 percent of the water line, Koons worked with a team of scientists to discover the deceptively simple solution of filling the balls with a sodium chloride reagent. The reason he used a basketball, he has said, is “probably for the purity of it, that it’s inflatable, it relates to our human experience . . . to be alive we have to breathe.” 

Popeye, 2009–2011. Estimate upon request. To be offered in the Contemporary Art Evening auction, 14 May. © 2014 Jeff Koons.

We can’t help but relate to the artist’s monumental interpretation of Popeye, the cartoon sailor and icon of 20th-century popular culture. Over life-size, rendered in stainless steel and finished in kaleidoscopic, mirror-polished glazes, the seven-foot-high figure embodies the artist’s signature brand of Pop art in the spirit of Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein. Triumphantly squeezing open a can of spinach, Popeye is simultaneously Everyman and Superman. 

Alexander Rotter, Co-Head, Contemporary Art Worldwide, and his #SothebysSelfie. Join the conversation on Instagram and Twitter.

The two works at Sotheby’s are chronological bookends of the artist’s spectacular career, which is the subject of a much-anticipated retrospective at the Whitney Museum of American Art opening 27 June and on view through 19 October. These works by Jeff Koons will be offered on 14 May in the Contemporary Art Evening auction.

標籤Auctions, 紐約, 當代藝術, Artist